Gig Recap: LOOP Festival (2020.10.03-04)

LOOP Festival  回响音乐节: Wang Wen 惘闻, Chinese Football, Glow Curve 发光曲线, Carsick Cars, Amber 琥珀 (光圈CLUB 2020.10.03-04)

Attended the Loop Festival in Xi’an during the Golden Week – held at Aperture Club’s new digs in the renovated cotton mill warehouse area 1935 (just one of the many refurbished patches of the cities – looking very much like a combo of 798 and Longfushi in Beijing) – a proper upper-tier venue with killer sound system and a semi-circular auditorium structure. Tight yet quite sizable. Luckily for audiences, capacity limitations were still in effect as the sold-out event left plenty of pockets of space to maneuver around in-between sets.  

My first night there kicked off with a set from local post rock heavyweights Amber, who bring old school gravitas to the genre — never rolling over into full-blown breakdown mode but full nevertheless with sprawling soundscapes chock full of crescendo, tremolo picking, and delay effects. 

Beijing’s Glow Curve followed with another wildly affecting set – proving again they’re one of the best acts out there, constantly evolving and tweaking their sets with both an eye for innovation and exploration. No two sets of Glow Curve are the same, even at times they dressing up some of their standout tracks in a downtempo facade, before pulling the rug out from underneath. 

Chinese Football, the emo rock outfit from Wuhan sound better and better each year. Kids were getting straight-up emotional around us as the band charged through a set of old favorites and then some, buoyantly ratcheting up the emotional and musical stakes and finding resonance in every hot-blooded chorus. 

Carsick Cars, fresh off a stint on The Big Band and back with their original lineup, feel rejuvenated. No more coasting on nostalgia for these cats. They were ready to deliver, igniting on seasoned tracks and finding off-kilter and stimulating ways to elevate their lesser-known songs. It’ll be exciting to see where the band goes from here, but color me intrigued.

The night after I had the pleasure of checking out Wang Wen who didn’t fuck around, giving audiences over an hour and a half of beautifully rendered compositions. It was also a chance to hear some of their latest album live – vintage Wang Wen, yet with its own flavor – brimming to life with warm Spanish and surf influences. But don’t be mistaken, this is a band that can start off with a supple flute-led melody before turning the adrenaline up and building into a taut John Murphy-esque score before finally crashing down into a synth-heavy prog metal climax. Simply put, there’s no one like Wang wen out there – they’re China’s most prominent post rock outfit for good reason.

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